Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2013

The Nonproft Leader

65 West 55th Street Gagan Suri ’96 describes his new novel, 65 West 55th Street , as a fctionalized memoir. The title is the address in New York City where he met his wife, Sarah, on a blind date. “The address marks the start of my journey with my soul mate, my best friend,” he says. That journey wasn’t always easy for Gagan and Sarah – or for their counterparts in the novel, Karan and Zeina. Gagan and Sarah grew up on diferent sides of the long-simmering feud between India and Pakistan. Hostility between the two nations dates back to 1947, when Pakistan was carved out of India, and has erupted in three major wars in the decades since. It took several years for their families to accept and bless their relationship. “Fighting to be with her was the best decision of my life,” Suri says. “But the story is not just about an Indian and a Pakistani. It is not just about a Hindu and a Muslim. The story extends to any two people with varied backgrounds who love each other.” Born and raised in India, Gagan Suri graduated from the Indian Institute of Hotel Management in New Delhi before moving to the U.S. and enrolling at Mercyhurst. After several years in the hotel industry with Hyatt Hotels, he headed to Canada’s McMaster University, earned an MBA and launched a new career in investment banking with Credit Suisse. During this career transition, he met Sarah, a native of Pakistan who had graduated from New York’s Parsons School and was working as a freelance fashion designer. Suri worked frst on Wall Street and later for international investment banks in London and the Middle East. Today he’s vice president and head of real estate for the largest Saudi bank, National Commercial Bank Capital. He lives in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Sarah and their two sons, Zyan (9) and Aaryan (6).

Al Messina ’71 has already turned the lessons learned during his long career with Boys & Girls Clubs of America into one book. Now he’s nearing completion of a second. The Decline & Fall of Charity in America , scheduled for

publication this fall, argues that nonprofts in recent years have become preoccupied with money, marketing and metrics. “Charity was once an informal act of kindness, but it has now become a professionalized act of philanthropy,” he explains. “It was once given without expectation of anything tangible in return, but is now given with the expectation of much in return, particularly public recognition of donors and the ever- expanding demand by funders for quantifable results.” Messina, an alumnus of the 118-year-old Erie Boys Club (now the Boys & Girls Club of Erie), went on to become the agency’s seventh executive director. He previously served as assistant national director of program services for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where he focused on leadership development. His service to the organization in many roles at many levels earned him the Thomas Garth Character and Leadership Award, presented to one executive each year from the more than 5,000 Boys & Girls Clubs in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Messina’s frst book, The Nonprofit Leader as Liberal Thinker: Politics, Ethics and Strategy Reconsidered , grew out of his experience not only with Boys & Girls Club, but with Erie community agencies including United Way, the Erie Rotary Scholarship Foundation, the Times Old Newsies, Erie Hospice and Family Services. calls The Nonprofit Leader , published in 2011, “a contemporary version of Machiavelli’s The Prince for the nonproft executive of the 21st century. Told in the form of a memoir, it is a compelling account of the political and ethical dynamics every nonproft leader must master to survive and ultimately succeed as a nonproft CEO.” Messina and his wife, Jan, have two daughters, Denise and Alyssa, and two granddaughters, Halle and Leah. One of the frst men to graduate from Mercyhurst, Messina was the frst male president of student government and the frst male editor of the Merciad .

The message of the book, published in December 2012, is simple. “Love goes beyond boundaries. To all those who love someone of a diferent religion, culture, or country: Believe in yourself and stay frm in your belief, because all forces against you will gradually wither away with

time and what will remain standing intact will be your true love itself.” The book is available at . For more information, check out his website at .


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online